Saul’s Miitary Campaigns
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SAUL'S MILITARY CAMPAIGNS
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1 Sam 11:1-7
Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh
11 Nahash[a] the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.”
2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”
3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”
4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.
6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one.
1 Sam 11:8-11
8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.
9 They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”
11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
1 Sam 13:1-7
Samuel Rebukes Saul
2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.
3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand[c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.
1 Sam 14:1-22
14 1 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
2 Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, 3 among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.
4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”
11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”
13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.
Israel Routs the Philistines
15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.
16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. 17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.
18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.) 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”
20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit.
1 Sam 14:47
47 After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.
1 Sam 15:1-9
The Lord Rejects Saul as King
15 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. 5 Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. 6 Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
1 Sam 31:1-6
Saul Takes His Life
31 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
The ancient city of Beth Shean lay on the plateau below the slopes of Mount Gilboa near where the Vale of Jezreel meets the Jordan Valley. Functioning originally as an Egyptian administrative centre during the reign of Pharoah Thutmose III and for the following three hundred years, it was one of the Canaanite cities that the Israelites were unable to conquer following their invasion of Canaan in c.1406 BC (see Joshua 17:11-12).
At this important location, it was adjacent to caravan routes from north to south along the Jordan Valley and from west to east, inland from the Mediterranean coast. The city grew prosperous from the passing trade, and when the Philistines defeated Saul, they hung up his body on the city walls to announce to traders from surrounding regions that Philistia was now the power to be feared in Palestine.
Beth Shean remained a Canaanite city during the period of the ‘Judges’ but was eventually conquered by King David in c.1000 BC (see 2 Samuel 8:1). David’s son Solomon built large administrative buildings here, the remains of which have been uncovered in recent excavations. The Israelite city was destroyed by King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria in 732 BC (see 2 Kings 15:29).
Following the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great in 332BC, Beth Shean was rebuilt as a Hellenistic (Greek) city and renamed Scythopolis (meaning ‘City of the Scythians’) – probably after Scythian mercenaries from the Steppes north of the Black Sea who settled here (see Colossians 3:11). It was conquered by the Roman general Pompey in 63BC and became the capital of the Decapolis, the confederation of ten Hellenistic cities within the Roman province of Syria that was designed to spread Graeco-Roman culture across the area.
Source: The Bible Journey
The Vale of Jezreel
The Jezreel Valley from Megiddo (Joe Freeman)
The Vale of Jezreel (the ‘Valley of Israel’ – also known as the Plain of Esdraelon) was an important lowland corridor running from south east to north west, linking the Jordan Valley near Beth Sheanto the coastal plain north of Mount Carmel (near the modern city of Haifa). At the coastal end, this lowland routeway joined up with the Via Maris – the ‘Way of the Sea’ which ran along the coastal plain linking the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Near its junction with the coastal plain, the Vale of Jezreel was guarded and controlled by the well-defended fortress at Megiddo – Biblical ‘Armageddon’.
Because of its strategic position, the Jezreel Valley was the site of many battles. The earliest recorded confrontation pre-dates the Israelite invasion of Canaan. During the 15th century BC, the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III defeated a Canaanite coalition under the kings of Kedesh and Megiddo at the Battle of Megiddo, fought in the Valley of Jezreel.
Over two hundred years later, in c.1208BC, Midianites and Amalekites crossed the River Jordan and headed north west along the Vale of Jezreel to plunder and ravage the lands along the fertile coastal plain. Calling together men from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, Gideon defeated the Midianites on the valley floor just north of Mount Gilboa (see Judges 6:33-35 & 7:1-25). Gideon, himself, was born in the Vale of Jezreel at Ophrah – usually identified as the modern-day city of Afula (see Judges 6:11 & 24).
Later, in 1011 BC, Saul – the first king of Israel – was killed by the Philistines at the Battle of Gilboa, overlooking the Vale of Jezreel, and his corpse was displayed on the walls of Beth Shean (see 1 Samuel 28:4, 29:1 & 31:1-10). Four hundred years later, in 610BC, King Josiah of Judah was killed at Megiddo by Pharoah Neco of Egypt, when Josiah tried to prevent the Egyptian king from crossing the Jezreel Valley en route to Assyria (see 2 Kings 23:29).
Source: The Bible Journey